A review by Brenda Daniels
The Armstrong Lie is the fourth release in Cinema Nouveau’s short Doccie Fest. It documents cyclist Lance Armstrong’s revelation of drug use during his famous Tour de France wins.
The documentary swings into immediate action with Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2013. Here he admits to using performance enhancing drugs during his Tour de France cycling.
It then goes back a few years and picks up the story in 2009 when Armstrong chose to make a comeback to the Tour after a four year break. At that time the documentary was intended to film his return to the sport. The comeback turned out to be his downfall, however, when the truth came out.
The documentary changes tack accordingly.
Documentaries can be obviously subjective, inconclusive and, at times, tedious to watch. The Armstrong Lie is none of those. It contains only real footage, and lots of interviews with cyclists and Armstrong himself. Apart from one short spell of slow-moving action three quarters of the way through, this two-hour film is an interesting, compelling watch.
What emerges is the enormous extent of the lie, Armstrong’s arrogance, his level of power, his almost constant lack of conscience, and his overarching thirst to be the best. It was these traits that helped Armstrong use performance enhancing drugs with such professionalism that he went undetected for so long.
It is quite clear that other cyclists, including those within his own team, were also guilty of drug use. But Armstrong’s fame, his romantic story of recovery from cancer, and the fact that he earned $120 million, served to make the Armstrong lie a much greater betrayal.
The Armstrong Lie opens at Cinema Nouveau in South Africa on 13 June.